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Frustrated Bayern fall to last-gasp defeat

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Bayern go into Saturday’s potentially title-deciding showdown away to sole remaining Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund with their lead at the top of the table cut to only five points after Wednesday’s shock 2-1 defeat at home to fifth-placed Mainz and the black-and-yellows’ 2-0 victory in Darmstadt.

The 75,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw Pep Guardiola’s reshaped team make the running in the first half but go in at the break a goal down after Jairo Samperio’s 26th-minute opener. Arjen Robben struck a deserved equaliser just after the hour and the Reds pressed hard for a winner, but instead the day turned sour four minutes from time when Colombian striker Jhon Cordoba restored the visitors’ lead and sealed a highly unlikely win.

A second defeat of the campaign means the Reds remain top of the standings on 62 points from 24 matches, now just five ahead of second-placed Dortmund prior to Saturday’s Klassiker in the Ruhr Valley.

Starts for Franck and Mehdi

Bayern boss Guardiola made five changes to the team that beat Wolfsburg at the weekend, with Mehdi Benatia and Franck Ribery making starting line-up comebacks – the French superstar began a match for Bayern for the first time in over a year.

Thiago, Rafinha and Arturo Vidal also came into the team with captain Philipp Lahm, Xabi Alonso, Thomas Müller, Joshua Kimmich and Douglas Costa rested. Mario Götze again took a seat on the bench.

The league leaders lined up with keeper Manuel Neuer again wearing the captain’s armband, Juan Bernat, David Alaba, Benatia and Rafinha in the back four, Vidal in the midfield anchor position with Thiago ahead of him, and Robben, Ribery, Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski in the forward line.

Jairo shocks Reds

After referee Sascha Stegemann whistled play underway on a cold night in the Bavarian capital, Bayern wasted little time in asserting their dominance on proceedings and twice went close to taking the lead inside the opening 20 minutes.

Arturo Vidal’s fiercely struck volley from the edge of the area was the first effort to test Mainz keeper Loris Karius, who was on hand to make an outstanding save once again moments later when preventing Juan Bernat from breaking the deadlock.

Despite being on the back foot during the opening exchanges though, it was Mainz who opened the scoring with only their second shot on goal when Guilio Donati broke down the right before picking out Jairo Samperio to sweep home from eight yards.

The men in red quickly recovered from the shock and resumed their assault on the away goal, but despite winning a total of eight corners in the first period, Mainz keeper Loris Karius and his disciplined defence kept the champions at bay before the break.

Arjen on target, Mainz win it late

The league leaders set off into the second half at a furious pace but the visitors fashioned the first chance when Younus Malli teed up Christian Clemens, the winger squandering the gilt-edged opportunity. Guardiola reacted by bringing on Müller for Coman and then Costa for Thiago, with Vidal and Lewandowski both going close, but there was initially no reward for the leaders’ increasingly urgent efforts.

That changed on 64 minutes when Vidal picked out Robben, the Dutchman taking a touch to control before lashing a drive past Karius from 20 yards to level the scores. The home team piled on the pressure now, but neither Robben nor Lewandowski were able to direct shots on target and the visiting defence threw bodies into the line of fire whenever FCB found space in the box.

Guardiola could bee seen passing on instructions to Ribery as the match entered its final ten minutes, but there were no takers for Robben’s teasing cross. The Bavarians laid siege to the away goal in the dying embers of the game, but there was a dramatic late twist when Brosinski and Baumgartlinger combined down the right and sub Cordoba netted from 12 yards, burying his team’s second chance of the second period to inflict a painful home defeat on Neuer and company. Lewandowski almost salvaged a point at the death but it was not to be on the day for the rueful Reds.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley